How To Adjust Your Taste Buds

According to Joseph Bennington-Castro, “we don’t just eat foods because we like them, we like them because we eat them”:

After birth, your preferences continue shaping for the next two years. “Up until the age of 2 you will eat anything,” [psychologist Elizabeth Phillips] says. But then you become neophobic — that is, you don’t like new food. So if you hadn’t already been exposed to a certain flavor by the time you hit your terrible twos — whether through amniotic fluid, breast milk or solid food — chances are you won’t like it. At this point, most parents make a big mistake. “They think, ‘Oh my child doesn’t like this,’ but it’s actually anything new that they don’t like,” Philip says. So parents typically stop trying to feed their child that food and the kid ends up apparently hating it for years to come. “They don’t know that if they just keep giving it to their child, they’ll eventually like it.”

The key, then, is to make the food not new. Basically, you’ll like a new or previously hated flavor if you’re repeatedly exposed to it — studies suggest that it takes 10 to 15 exposures. “So if there’s something you don’t like, just eat it over and over and over again,” Philip says.